South Beach ID’d as Zika source

Five cases have been con­nected to mos­qui­toes within the Mi­ami area

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NATION & WORLD - By Jennifer Kay

MI­AMI >> South Beach has been iden­ti­fied as a sec­ond site of Zika trans­mis­sion by mos­qui­toes on the main­land, and con­tain­ing it there will be dif­fi­cult be­cause high­rise build­ings and strong winds make it im­prac­ti­cal to spray the neigh­bor­hood from the air, of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

Five cases of Zika have been con­nected to mos­qui­toes in Mi­ami Beach, bring­ing the state’s caseload to 36 in­fec­tions not re­lated to travel out­side the U.S., Florida’s gov­er­nor and Depart­ment of Health an­nounced Fri­day.

The dis­cov­ery prompted the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion to an­nounce that it was ex­pand­ing its travel warn­ing for preg­nant women to in­clude an area in Mi­ami Beach known for night­clubs, pedes­trian thor­ough­fares and beaches.

Zika in­fec­tion can cause brain­re­lated birth de­fects, in­clud­ing a dan­ger­ously small head, if women are in­fected dur­ing preg­nancy.

The virus’ ap­par­ent spread from a Mi­ami neigh­bor­hood pop­u­lar for day trips to the South Beach streets where many tourists sleep has rat­tled the tourism in­dus­try, even in the slower sum­mer sea­son.

Gov. Rick Scott has di­rected Florida’s Health Depart­ment to of­fer mos­quito spray­ing and re­lated ser­vices at no cost to Mi­ami-Dade County’s ho­tels, res­tau­rants and tourist at­trac­tions. More than 15.5 mil­lion peo­ple made overnight vis­its to Mi­ami and nearby beaches in 2015, with an im­pact of $24.4 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Greater Mi­ami Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bu­reau.

The CDC pre­vi­ously warned preg­nant women to avoid the Wyn­wood arts district in Mi­ami. In its state­ment Fri­day the agency said preg­nant women might also want to con­sider post­pon­ing nonessen­tial travel through­out Mi­ami-Dade County if they’re con­cerned about po­ten­tial ex­po­sure to the mos­quito-borne virus.

“We’re in the midst of mos­quito sea­son and ex­pect more Zika in­fec­tions in the days and months to come,” said CDC Di­rec­tor Dr. Tom Frieden. “It is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict how long ac­tive trans­mis­sion will con­tinue.”

Aerial spray­ing and door-todoor op­er­a­tions on the ground have cut mos­quito pop­u­la­tions in Wyn­wood by up to 90 per­cent, but Zika may be con­tin­u­ing as mos­qui­toes breed, Frieden told re­porters Fri­day.

“The mos­qui­toes are per­sis­tent, and we won’t know for a cou­ple of weeks whether these ag­gres­sive mea­sures have worked,” Frieden said.

Aerial spray­ing isn’t prac­ti­cal over South Beach be­cause of the height of its build­ings and strong winds over the nar­row is­land city, Frieden said. Of­fi­cials will be lim­ited to spray­ing for mos­qui­toes at ground level in the highly pop­u­lated area.

“Mi­ami Beach does have a se­ries of char­ac­ter­is­tics that make it par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing,” Frieden said.

Two of the peo­ple in­fected in Mi­ami Beach are Mi­ami-Dade County res­i­dents, and three are tourists, in­clud­ing one man and two women, Scott said. The tourists are res­i­dents of New York, Texas and Tai­wan.

The new area of in­fec­tion in South Beach is roughly 1.5 square miles be­tween 8th and 28th streets, ac­cord­ing to Florida’s Depart­ment of Health.

Mi­ami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Fri­day af­ter­noon that the Zika re­ports cer­tainly aren’t ideal for tourism, but he ex­pects the long-term im­pact to be rel­a­tively mi­nor. He said city work­ers are try­ing to get rid of stand­ing wa­ter and fo­liage that might at­tract the virus-spread­ing in­sects, while the county be­gins a fu­mi­ga­tion pro­gram to kill the bugs.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the Amer­i­cas Food and Bev­er­age Show will add mos­quito re­pel­lent to goody bags at the late-Septem­ber event at the Mi­ami Beach Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.


A City of Mi­ami Beach san­i­ta­tion worker gets ready to clean the al­ley­ways of South Beach, suck­ing up still wa­ter and de­bris with a mo­bile vac­uum as part of the city’s Zika cleanup.

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